Burns Can Affect Your Quality of Life 

Over 400,000 people seek medical treatment for burn injuries each year. This often misunderstood and underappreciated injury can affect anyone at almost any time. Burns could be from chemicals, electricity, heat, radiation, or even the sun. While minor burns  happen every day and can be treated at home, more severe burns require hospitalization and can have a lifelong impact on quality of life. 

What Are the Types of Burns That Can Create Lasting Damage?

Burn types are defined by how deep they are and how much of the body they cover. Deeper and more extensive burns are harder to heal and create a more significant medical risk to the person. First-degree burns are the least damaging and only affect the outer layer of the skin. Most sunburns are examples of first-degree burns. 

Second-degree burns damage the outer layer and the next layer down of the skin. These burns may require skin grafting and could leave a scar. Third-degree burns always require skin grafting. These burns damage the skin, hair follicles, sweat glands, and nerve endings. 

Finally, fourth, fifth, and sixth-degree burns are the most severe. These burns can cause lasting damage because they progressively extend deeper into the body. This means your fat, muscle, bone, and nerves suffer damage, causing long-term issues with mobility, functionality, and nerves.

What Are the Health Effects of Being Burned? 

Possible health effects experienced after getting burned are physical and psychological. While it is often easier to focus on the physical recovery, it is important to acknowledge and address the psychological challenges that come with the physical recovery process. 

Physical Health Effects 

Physical health effects of experiencing a burn develop and change from immediately after the burn throughout the healing process, and beyond. Immediately after experiencing a severe burn, swelling, blistering, shock, or even death may occur. The body goes into immediate protection mode as it springs into action. 

During the healing process, the body is more susceptible to infection. This is because the skin acts like a protective layer, keeping germs and bacteria out. With a burn, the protective skin layer is compromised, increasing susceptibility to infection. 

Depending on the severity of the burn, multiple surgeries could be required. Once healed, there may be extensive scarring. For the most severe burns, long-term physical therapy is required for the person to regain function of their burned body part. 

Psychological Health Effects 

Individuals who suffer a severe burn injury experience emotional trauma. This includes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the injury. There is also increased mental stress and depression as they learn to accept the sudden change to their body. In addition, they may experience stress related to financial concerns, relationships, and greater social acceptance. 

If psychological issues are not addressed, this can lead to a decline in quality of life. The individual may lose interest in once-enjoyed activities, have difficulty sleeping, avoid social events, or experience flashbacks of the burn event.  

What Long-Term Problems Can Burn Victims Have? 

Long-term health problems burn victims experience vary greatly. Depending on location and severity of the burn, they could experience decrease in their work performance, inability to participate in physically active pastimes, or loss of strength. Some burn victims experience nerve issues or itching at the burn site. Psychologically, some struggle with depression, interpersonal relationship struggles, or decline in self-image. 

What Can a Burn Victim Do for a Better Quality of Life?

For burn victims to experience a better quality of life post-injury, they should focus on finding satisfaction in life. According to one scientific study, it takes about 11.5 years for burn victims to significantly improve their quality of life post-injury. Those who experienced a large improvement in quality of life focused on gaining independence, participating in physical past times, gaining employment, and developing interpersonal relationships. 


Burn victims who secure employment post-injury experience better quality of life. Having a job gives the individual a sense of responsibility and independence and encourages social interaction and interpersonal relationships. Securing gainful employment eases the financial strain that comes with post-burn injury treatment. 

Patience With the Process

Studies show that the most significant patient-perceived improvements in quality of life happen in the first year after discharge. However, quality of life continues to improve steadily for up to 15 years following injury. With this extended length of recovery and healing, burn victims need to have patience. It may take time for them to feel satisfied with their quality of life. 

Develop Relationships 

When burn recovery is extensive, relationships suffer, resulting in the loss of friendships. This can leave burn victims feeling isolated post-injury. This lack of social connection and interaction may lead to a decline in perceived quality of life. Therefore, burn victims need to foster old relationships or form new ones post-injury. 

Physically Active 

Staying physically active is important for physical and mental health. Post-burn injury, a victim may not be able to participate in the physical activities they once enjoyed. However, this does not mean they can’t find other activities to participate in. Burn victims should work with their physical therapist to find activities that they can do to stay active. 

Plan For Your Long-Term Burn Care 

No one expects or plans to become a burn victim. Post-injury, a life care plan can ease financial concerns, reduce stress, and help the burn victim gain much-needed independence. With a plan in place, burn victims can focus on finding enjoyable physical activities and developing relationships. 

Schedule a consultation with one of our caring life planners to establish a long-term plan to ensure quality of life post-burn injury.